This week seems long. Maybe because everywhere around me I see suitcases. Bing leaves for Berlin on Friday. Liv leaves for France on Saturday. Liv's bags are packed, ready to go. She is excited. I don't know if it will be as much fun as her spelunking vacation with her Father last year. This year, he is teaching at a university but says that there will be lots of time to see the sights as he only teaches in the mornings. He has a great little apartment with a pull out sofa in his living room for her. She will be gone until the 14th, so will only miss 2 swim meets.
Bing, on the other hand will be gone until the second week of July. Not as long as she was gone to Africa last year, but a long time.
I was fine last year. Actually, if you recall, I pretty much shocked myself by THRIVING. I recall three days of being weepy followed by two and half months of deeply enjoying my solitude. Long, lazy evenings gardening or reading in the Adirondack chair with our sweet little dog in my lap.
But this is the hard part: the few days before they leave. I feel unsettled and lonely even though they are both right here. Once, they are gone and I am alone, I will do better.
Today was a long day at work. And I know that Nanette is a big part of the lengthy feeling to the days but I just keep stalling. I keep telling myself that I don't want to fire her until she does something really awful, so I can work up to where I am more angry than annoyed. But, the problem is that she doesn't do really heinous things, just small bitchy things that add up.
I stall. I miss my television shows that I could just lose myself in. I am reading a new book but it isn't grabbing me yet. I want a book to reach out and grab me and yank me in...hard. I have avoided going into Liv's room unless I have to because the sight of her suitcases make me feel all weepy.
Then, after supper, Liv and I were outside weeding the garden and Bing came up to us.
"Come see something pretty," she said. I sighed and got to my feet. Often, Bing's idea of pretty and my idea of it are completely different. For instance, she finds baby rabbits charming. I find them annoying. They and their parents ate all my okra plants. But..I still went, wiping my hands on the sides of my jeans.
Bing drew us around to the side of the house that gets a full dose of the morning sun. As we walked closer, I saw them and knew that this was what she wanted us to see.
Our Japanese lilies. Okay...not ours pictured...but they look just like this. Without the goldfish swimming nearby.
Bing had bought them in Japan and had them sent to us. They arrived mid Summer and I planted them according to the instructions: Plant where they can get a full dose of morning sun.
The accompanying pamphlet said not to despair if there were no blooms for several years: Japanese lilies are tender hearted and while sturdy, a bit aloof. They like to think about it before they bloom, I read. I smiled when I read that and actually put this sentence on our bulletin board inside the house. I immediately identified with those lilies, saw them as my family.
I cared for them tenderly all summer and then put them sweetly to bed for their long Winter's sleep. I hadn't done much with them yet this year, other then to uncover them and make sure that there were no weeds around them. I did sing Paperweight to them as I mulched around them, but that was pretty much it. I didn't expect a bloom.
But, there they were: FOUR gorgeous purple blooms.
I ran my fingers lightly over them. Liv leaned down and whispered, "Welcome to the USA, pretty girls!" Our neighbor, Hal came over and leaned against the fence.
"Those are sure some pretty 'uns," he said. "Go get a camera and I will take a photo of you three by those pretty flowers of yours." So, Bing sent Liv inside to get her telephone (who uses cameras anymore, anyone?) and then we all posed behind our gorgeous Japanese lilies. Bing tucked one arm around my waist and I did the same to Liv, noting that she no longer was able to lean into my neck. My seventh grade daughter was now TALLER than me! We all smiled and Hal snapped the photo. We took a look at it.
It was perfect. Bing looked like Bing, calm and sure footed. I was in the middle, smiling happily, my sun hat tipped back, gardening gloves hanging out of my pocket and then there was Liv, not looking at the camera but at me and smiling her jack o'lantern smile, her braids hanging over her shoulders, one of them shining in the late day sun.
I told Bing that I want that photo to put on my bedside table so that I can look at us every single day when she and Liv are gone.
She grinned at me. "I have a feeling that you think you will miss us," she said, her southern drawl sneaking to the surface.
I didn't answer. She knows I will.
But, you know. I will have this photo and I will remember this day. The day that I discovered that my "aloof" blooms were shooting up bold as you please. The day that I noticed that my daughter had surpassed me a great deal in height. The day that I felt Bing's arm tuck around my waist, loyal and true blue.
I think it will all be just fine.